The OF Blog: Ninjas and pirates

Friday, July 11, 2008

Ninjas and pirates

I'm almost 100 pages into Nick Harkaway's The Gone-Away World and ninja talk has begun.

Can someone please give reasons why certain people are so fascinated with ninjas? Oh, and pirates too, while I'm thinking of it. I don't think I'm getting their appeal right now and I suspect this might lead to a lowered opinion of this book.

10 comments:

Liviu said...

Well I guess everyone has their fascinations - but Gone Away has so much stuff, wait until you get to the description of the "Away" gun, bomb that gives the title, if that one does not make you throw the book, ninjas are small fries; still worth reading and even rereading this one, despite the occasional aggravating verbiage

And after all the classification of phobias in 2666 and similar digressions may or may not be on your taste either... 500+ in and it's absolutely great, though not as dark as I expected - at least compared with other books I've read

MattD said...

Larry, I started a topic about the surge in popularity of pirates in literature -- especially SF&F -- over at FantasyBookSpot about a year ago; you can read what I and a few others wrote here. I do think it's an interesting trend as they're one of the newer symbols to appear in the extended fantasy tradition; it might be interesting to consider that in relation to your ideas of the rise of fantasy-as-a-genre and its ties to material culture.

Jonathan M said...

The fact that ninjas pop up does actually make sense in the context of the book. Whether it actually works is a different issue.

S.M.D. said...

I think it started with the anime world and spilled over when Pirates of the Caribbean came out. Ninjas used to have free reign to do whatever they wanted to, and then several supposedly good pirate shows showed up in the American market, followed by PotC and there was a huge divide.
My fascination with ninjas is more for their media presentation than their historical presentation: they're cool (climbing up walls, disappearing, throwing ninja stars, etc.).

Fish Monkey said...

Everything is answered by Cat and Girl:

http://www.catandgirl.com/view.php?loc=436

Larry said...

Kathy,

That link explains quite a bit!

Everyone else,

I'll get around to reading the rest of the book later, but first I have a different book to read/finish that arrived this afternoon. I'll discuss this later, once I've read the book and once I've recovered from a bout of a stomach virus/food poisoning.

Nick Harkaway said...

I'm not actually much of a ninja obsessive, either. I think (and this is a new thought, post-TGAW, which occurred to me in conversation with a guy from TOSydney the other day) that the point about ninjas is that they propose a world where it's possible for one person to make a difference. A lot of the time, in the world we live in, one person seems impossibly small. Ninjas don't accept that situation - and nor, for what it's worth, do pirates.

The book isn't really a riff on ninjas vs. pirates, though - they're just in the mix, like everything else. So don't feel you need to know all that stuff. I'd be horrified with myself if I thought I'd written a five hundred plus page in-joke. Yikes...

NH

Larry said...

Thanks for replying, Nick! I'm not far enough along yet in the novel to make up my mind on it yet (it does seem to be the sort of novel that'll require a careful reading), but I just used your novel as an example to raise the question of why ninjas/pirates have become such popular staples in recent years. I appreciate your comments and will take them into account :D

Ellestra said...

And elves and dragons and vampires and everything people thought was cool so they used and reused it so much it turned into junk food and plastic. All that stuff that makes you want to puke until that rare occasions when it's made anew and you remember why it used to be interesting in the first place. Hope this is one of those occasions.

Camilla said...

I really enjoyed Harkaway's take on ninjas and pirates. I was expecting the cliché (and I say this as an original ninja fan), and got something immensely better. The whole book did that, it seems to me.

Granted, I may have been seduced by the wonderful Mr Wu and the soft martial arts; and the tupperware moment stole my heart away.

But the whole objection to the homogenising, and the celebration of the un-assimilating was beautifully worked. And the ninjas and pirates worked perfectly in that.

 
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